A massive iceberg broke off Antarctica on Saturday, the latest piece of ice to leave the continent.
The U.S. National Ice Center measured the iceberg at 71.5 square miles, about three times the size of Manhattan. Previous media reports had the iceberg at over 100 square miles.
The iceberg is now in the Amundsen Sea but will eventually drift into Pine Island Bay, notes the Ice Center. The iceberg shows signs of fracturing, meaning smaller pieces of ice may break off. The Ice Center said it’s not expected to cause any shipping hazards.
Chris Shuman of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said the break is part of a natural process, but the frequency of the breaks is concerning. Forces such as wind, tides, currents and even collisions with other icebergs can create rifts in the ice. Warm water moving underneath the glaciers causes the ice to thin and perhaps accelerates the rifts.
“The fact that the calving events have gotten a little more frequent is not a good sign,” Shuman said. He adds there is no sign the trend is reversing.
The continuation, he said, means further ice losses to Antarctica and possible rising sea levels as a result.
The glacier, reports the Washington Postis a part of West Antarctica that already loses 45 billion tons of ice annually, contributing to sea level rises. Pine Island Glacier, Gizmodo reports, is the “fastest-melting glacier in Antarctica.”